Self-Destruct Your WhatsApp Messages By Default

Earlier last year, WhatsApp finally introduced the option to send short-lived messages that will be automatically deleted after 7 days. Messaging giant now owned by Meta is releasing a new update this adds more time to the self-destruct timer (24 hours and 90 days). It also comes with a option to set a default disappearing message timer for new WhatsApp chats, and that’s what we’re going to discuss in this quick and short guide. So, let’s see how you can have WhatsApp messages self-destruct by default in new chats.

Send Disappearing Messages By Default On WhatsApp (2021)

As mentioned above, disappearing messages timer only applies to new chats. If you want to turn on the feature for existing chats, you can follow our guide on how to send lost messages on WhatsApp. In the meantime, let’s move on to the steps of configuring the default disappearing messages timer so that WhatsApp chats self-destruct by default.

Set New WhatsApp Chats to Self-Destruct by Default

1. Open WhatsApp and tap the vertical three-dot menu icon in the upper right corner. From the pop-up window that appearsSettings“.

2. From the WhatsApp settings page, Tap “Account” and select “Privacy” To review your privacy settings

whatsapp privacy settings screen

3. Under the “Disappearing messages” section on the next page, set “Default message timer” for new chats. The available disappearing messages timer options are 24 hours, 7 days and 90 days. All you have to do is select the appropriate timer based on how often you prefer WhatsApp messages to self-destruct in the conversation window.

default message timer settings

4. When you set the default message timer, WhatsApp will display a banner on new chats to remind you that you have enabled this feature. Tapping this header will take you directly to WhatsApp’s disappearing messages settings page. If you change your mind or prefer to set the message expiration time, you can do so without following these steps.

WhatsApp disappearing messages timer warning banner

Set Disappearing Messages Scheduler for WhatsApp Groups

While the new default message timer is mostly suitable for one-on-one chats, WhatsApp is also enabling the self-destruct timer preference for new groups. For example, if you set ’90 days’ as the default timer in settings, this time will be the default option when you create a new group. Here’s how you can configure disappearing messages in new and existing groups:

  1. After selecting the participants when creating a new WhatsApp group, you will see the “Disappearing messages” option below the field to enter the name of the group. Tap this to set how long after you want messages to self-destruct in the WhatsApp group.
WhatsApp Disappearing Messages scheduler new group

2. Open the group info screen for available group chats and you will see the option to configure the “Disappearing messages” setting. As WhatsApp has detailed before, users can still choose to forward messages to other chats or quote the text as a workaround to preserve the original message before it self-destructs.

WhatsApp Disappearing Messages scheduler old group

Pros and Cons of WhatsApp Disappearing Messages Feature

Now that you know how to set up the new default disappearing messages timer on WhatsApp, you should remember them before using this feature to improve your privacy. The feature isn’t as exclusive as the messaging giant advertises, and it does have some loopholes. To give you a better idea, we’ve listed the pros and cons of WhatsApp’s ephemeral messaging feature right here:

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  • Messages are automatically deleted after a preset time without leaving any traces behind.
  • Option to turn the feature on by default as described in this guide above.
  • New self-destruct timer options ranging from 24 hours to 90 days.
  • If your lost messages were backed up to cloud on Android OS iOS, they will be deleted when you restore from backup.


  • No screenshot detection.
  • The user can copy or forward messages. Yes, this is one of the biggest shortcomings of this feature as it has essentially no privacy protection compared to other short-lived messaging apps like Snapchat or Instagram DM.
  • Without end-to-end encryption, an attacker could use your backups to gain access to expired messages. To fully guard against this, you can learn how to enable end-to-end encrypted backups on WhatsApp through our linked guide.
  • Message preview stays in notifications even if the timer expires. This means you can read the message in the notification if you haven’t opened the chat yet.

Set New WhatsApp Messages to Self-Destruct by Default

WhatsApp isn’t the only messaging platform that allows users to set a default message timer. In fact, the update comes just months after Signal added a similar feature to its secure messaging app. If you’ve switched from WhatsApp to Signal, be sure to check out our linked guide on sending messages that disappear by default in Signal. If you’re looking for other nifty WhatsApp tips and tricks, check out this linked article to stay ahead of the curve. Do you have any questions about the disappearing messages feature in WhatsApp? Let us know in the comments below.

Moyens Staff
Moyens I/O Staff has motivated you, giving you tips on technology, personal development, lifestyle and strategies that will help you.